Autumn’s daylight hours are slipping away a little each day, even though the switch back to standard time is still a few weeks away. So if you find yourself outside walking or exercising during dawn or dusk when it’s darker, follow these tips gathered from the Seattle Police Department and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to keep yourself safe:
Find a buddy to keep you company. Walking or exercising with a friend will give you company, provide motivation and increase safety. If you find yourself out alone, walk with confidence and purpose. Pay close attention to your surroundings and avoid “automatic pilot.”
Don’t use headphones while exercising; this cuts down your awareness of what is happening around you and impedes your ability to hear oncoming traffic or other potential dangers.
Use lighted paths and sidewalks whenever available. Plan your route to avoid uninhabited parks, parking lots, garages and alleyways. Stick to well-lit areas. Keep away from large bushes or doorways where someone could be lurking.
Stop and look for traffic in all directions before crossing the street — look to the left, right and left again — even on a one-way street. Always look left last because that is usually the direction cars will be coming from when you first step off the curb.
Dress to be seen by drivers. Wear reflective items, which give off light when headlights shine on them and can be seen by drivers three times farther than just white. Use a flashlight to help light your path.
Remember parked cars, buses, hedges and even telephone poles can obscure a driver’s view. If a driver stops to let you cross the street, don’t blindly accept the driver’s offer because there may be another vehicle in the next lane overtaking the stopped vehicle. And the second driver can’t see you because of the stopped vehicle.
Keep your distance if someone in a vehicle stops and asks for directions. If a car or person follows you, turn and quickly walk the opposite direction or go immediately to an area with lights and people. Pay attention to the uncomfortable feelings that often warn us of potential danger. Don’t feel awkward or rude about crossing the street, returning to a business or asking for help based on a gut feeling. You may be right!